This parental reverie is by Rachel Burns, who was shortlisted for the Keats-Shelley Adult Poetry Prize 2017. It can be found in the Autumn 17 issue of the literary publication Southlight 22 (Wigtown Festival Company, £5).


We visit the same haunts every year

Loading article content

our children’s lives marked


by brightly coloured pins

in the Ordnance Survey map.


Charting stumbling toddler years

to teenage angst, until they disappear


from camera view, exams taking hold

and later preferring to travel


further and wider, backpacking

across Europe, sleeping in hostels


cooling their heels on the InterRail car.

Yet when we travel, we carry


the memory of the children

they once were, through city trails


across familiar landscapes, the hillsides

the beaches, the hundred acre woods.


We hear our children’s laughter

in the grounds of ruined castles


running up the steep steps on cliff walks.

Voices shouting over crashing waves.


We stand on high bridges

looking down over the edge


awed by the sheer drop.

It is if they have never left us.


We are sightseers still.